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The Muppet Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens' holiday classic reimagined with the Muppets.

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One of the Best Adaptations of Charle's Dicken's Classic Novella

  • Dec 7, 2009
  • by
Aside from Cinderella, A Christmas Carol may be one of the piece of literature Hollywood relies on the most when they need to put a movie out there.  There are so many adaptations done in so many different ways.  The Flintstones had an adaptation, to give you an idea.  There's almost always an episode of your favorite show in TV that has a "Scrooge," like character as well.  There have been so many movies made (they just recently released an adaptation with Jim Carrey as Scrooge... and many other characters) that it's impossible not to have come across an adaptation of a Christmas Carol.  People will always debate over what the best adaptation of Charles Dicken's inspiring novella is.  Many seem to enjoy the one with Patrick Stewart the most.  On the other hand, I've always believed the best adaptation is the one which stars the muppets.

At this point I would normally give you a rundown of the basic plot.  I'm going to forego that, this time.  Because by now you should know the plot of A Christmas Carol.  If you don't then you'd be one of the only people in the world who actually managed to stay under the rock.  Even if you've never seen any of the adaptations (another something that's hard to believe) you've no doubt at least heard of the story and it's basic premise and plot.

The Muppet Adaptation is one of the lesser known ones, if you can believe it.  It typically comes on television around the holidays, but even then the other adaptations typically get more air time (or because there are too many you might miss this one because it'll get buried).  The film originally debuted in 1992.  Unfortunately in its theatrical run it was rather ignored thanks to bigger films coming out such as Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.  In spite of that, it is one of the best adaptations of the original story because it takes a very unique approach.  The muppets are one thing but so is the the unique feel of the adaptation itself.

As you might expect, the story presents itself with humans and puppets.  Michael Caine plays Ebenezer Scrooge, the bitter old man on Christmas.  For those who want the muppets, however, you'll be pleased to know that Kermit the Frog is Bob Cratchit, but even better is that Gonzo is Charles Dickens himself who narrates the tale as it moves along.  And much of the narration is pulled straight from the book itself.  This is why, for those of you who are really big on being close to the story (which you probably never read) the version with the muppets is the closest.  Because Charles Dickens actually narrates it. 

And most of your favorite muppets are there.  Kermit the Frog, Rizzo the Rat as the commentary while Gonzo as Dickens narrates.  Statler and Waldorf show up as Jacob and Robert Marley.  Miss Piggy shows up as--who else--Bob Cratchit's wife (who disappointingly don't have a frog/pig hybrid when it comes to Tiny Tim... who is played by Robin the Frog) and plenty of others to come along.  Each of them takes up a role that's suited for them.  And while the muppets aren't entirely the star of the show (that honor goes to Michael Caine) they are the most pleasant part of the movie.  You can almost consider this a musical as there are a lot of great musical numbers.  Some that are a lot of fun (the opening number introducing Scrooge comes to mind) while others are far more emotionally moving ("When Love is Gone," comes to mind).  It's a story you'll have heard many times before (and seen many times before) but the Muppet version stands among the best because it not only gives you the muppets, but adds a lot of emotional depth to the story as a whole.  Whether it's in some of the movies more emotional moments or not.  Part of it is because Michael Caine does a marvelous job of playing the bitter, selfish Scrooge.  The other portion that adds to it is that while the muppets have moments where they're comic relief, they still manage to come off as perfectly normal within the context of the story itself.  You'll see lots of humans throughout the setting and lots of muppets as well.  When you're in town and the streets are filled with both you sort of get the sense that the loveable puppets belong.  There's nothing strange or unusual about it.  

If there was anything about the movie that's a little disappointing it would be that it isn't as well known as other adaptations.  Muppet fans, I'm sure, are well aware that it's there, but being one of those movies that's success is often overlooked (especially because some may see it as another Christmas Carol adaptation in a sea of Christmas Carol adaptations) it's easy to see why even some fans of the muppets haven't even seen it.  It's unfortunate.  The movie was originally released in 1992.  I'd be lying if I said it didn't find an audience, but I'd also be lying if I said it was one of the first adaptations many thought about when they thought of A Christmas Carol. 

If you haven't seen this particular adaptation of A Christmas Carol, you'll be pleasantly surprised by it.  It tells the story adding in those adorable muppets, but it also does it in such a way that the muppets themselves aren't the only reason to watch it.  It's enjoyable, adorable, but also very touching.  There are a lot of adaptations of A Christmas Carol out there, but there are only a few that rank among the best.  The Muppet Christmas Carol is definitely one of the best adaptations of the classic story.  Watch it and enjoy it. 

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December 07, 2009
Nice one Mr Rhodes. Couldn't agree more ( I'd even go so far as to say not only is it the best Christmas Carol adaptation, it's one of the very best Dickens adaptations. Up there with Lean's Great Expectations. Heh.
December 07, 2009
LOL! I knew it was only a matter of time before someone goes to review this on this site and the timing couldn't be better! Except for Ms. Piggy, I am not much of a muppet fan, I would like to beat the heck out of Kermit though :-P hell, what is up with me and cartoons?! excellently review you have here, Sean.
December 07, 2009
Actually, I totally agree with you here. This is the most entertaining and most faithful adaptation in a lot of ways. The made for TV version with Patrick Stewart was also quite good.
Nice review, fellow Muppet fan. ; )
As for this film being "very touching", you're not joking. This was the first movie I saw that made me cry (feel free to call me a wimp now).
December 07, 2009
The Other Sean has feelings! O.M.G!!!!!!!!11111 No, I'm kidding. I LOVE this movie. Of all the Christmas Carol adaptations out there it's my absolute favorite one. It's like, if I'm flipping through Christmas specials and I see this one on, I have to stop and watch! I can't help it... and what's sad is that I own it! That song "When Love is Gone," is usually what gets to me. Makes my eyes water... shut up, it's not crying! There's just a bug in my eye and I'm trying to drown it!"  ...Yes, every time I watch that scene there just happens to be a bug in my eye... yeah, that's it.
December 07, 2009
For me, what makes me teary is when Beaker gives his scarf to Scrooge. It's just so sweet. I just watched this literally not half an hour ago and the thing gets me every time.
More The Muppet Christmas Carol reviews
Quick Tip by . December 07, 2009
posted in Awesomeness
Long live the Muppets! The funniest and cleverest adaptation of Dickens' classic holiday tale & one of my all-time favorite family films! =D
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #3
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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